BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Sean McDermott sat at the microphone for his first training camp press conference as Eagles defensive coordinator and stressed the importance of individualized instruction while showing a thirst for the coming season. There are a lot of things McDermott hopes to improve this year, citing red zone defense specifically, and there is a lot of work to be done here at Lehigh in order to make this defense the best in the league.
"We finished third in total defense last year, so until we're number one, that will remain our goal," McDermott said.
He went on to say how happy he is with the available talent and depth at his disposal.
"These are young, great character guys, and all coachable. That's a great foundation to start from," he said. "Any time you get to work one-on-one with the players, the teaching opportunities are magnified." Photo Gallery : 2009 Training Camp
One of those young players who has been getting some attention is fifth-round draft pick Macho Harris. A cornerback in college at Virginia Tech, Harris took most of his reps Monday morning at safety, and McDermott said that Harris has the ability to play multiple positions for the Eagles.
"Macho is a very talented football player and we'll look to get him on the field wherever we can," McDermott said. "The mental part is the biggest challenge to playing two positions in this defense."
And that's something that McDermott said Harris is prepared to handle.
As for the strained pec muscle that will sideline defensive end Victor Abiamiri for a couple weeks, McDermott isn't overly concerned.
"Obviously it hurts any player not to be on the field," said McDermott, "Anyone who's played the game knows how important training camp is, and how important that first contact is. But he'll be back, we're not worried about Victor."
One veteran who will receive a lot of attention once he gets to camp is linebacker Omar Gaither. Gaither has starting experience in this defense, and will get a chance to earn whatever playing time he deserves.
"Omar's a talented football player, and you look to add value any way you can," said McDermott. So he'll work in everywhere and "will compete with Akeem (Jordan) at the (weakside linebacker) position."
McDermott already seems to have a strong presence as the new leader of this vaunted defense, even though Jim Johnson's presence is sorely missed.
"We miss Jim coming out of the locker room and being on the field," McDermott said.
But the new defensive coordinator is singularly focused on the task at hand.
"I've prepared for this my whole life," McDermott said.